The La Joya School Board and a Hidalgo County Commissioner are being sued with allegations of systematic politically-based retaliation by a group of twenty-four current and former school district employees. Allegations include kickbacks, favoritism, contract rigging for votes and other political favors.
Hidalgo County Commissioner Joe Flores was dragged into the lawsuit because, according to a report about the lawsuit in The McAllen Monitor, the Commissioner exerts “substantial influence over other local elected officials in western Hidalgo County. He wields his political power through a system of reward and fear of punishment.” The lawsuit claims, “Supporters are given employment or rigged contracts in exchange for votes, kickbacks or political favors. Individuals who do not play along with Defendant Flores’ political plans are punished by being fired, demoted, transferred, losing contracts and threatened with prosecution.”
This story comes on the heels of Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino’s resignation and subsequent conviction on charges of money laundering and public corruption; and a grand jury investigation into possible voting machine irregularities.
Javier Peña, the attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, claims the school board is dominated by a local political party known as “Team Liberty.” This group allegedly works closely with the local governments of Sullivan City, La Joya, Palmview and Peñitas.
“It seems like every time there’s a board election, they fire a lot of people and reassign a lot of people,” Peña said, adding that lawsuits alleging political retaliation are not anything new for the hyper-political La Joya school district. “People shouldn’t have to be afraid of losing their jobs every time an election rolls around.”
The twenty four employees of the district claim to have been punished by the school board for not actively supporting Team Liberty. Their lawsuit alleges a conspiracy involving the board and Commissioner Flores along with County Judge Ramon Garcia and several other Sullivan City, La Joya, Palmview and Peñitas leaders.
While Flores denies the allegations, the plaintiff’s attorney, Peña, claims to have obtained a video which allegedly shows various Hidalgo County politicians frankly and openly discussing contracts and campaign contributions. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, back pay and reinstatement for employees who were previously fired under the circumstances alleged in the lawsuit.
The case will be heard by 92nd District Court Judge Jaime Tijerina according to court records obtained by Breitbart Texas. Judge Tijerina was appointed to the bench by Governor Rick Perry in October, 2013. He is currently seeking election to a full term on the bench as a Republican in the 2014 general election.
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